Age Discrimination in the Workplace
Age discrimination in employment is a complex issue which impacts many areas of Government policy and has many implications for individuals themselves. Age discrimination can occur across all spectrums of employment and can affect both young and old. Age discrimination can affect a person’s chances of getting a job, and potentially their chances of promotion or development within the workplace. Age can also be a factor when employers are deciding who should be selected during a workforce downsize or redundancy of work due to a mergers and acquisitions. Age seems to be more of a common issue in the workplace than racism or sexism. Approximately 20% of all complaints filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for age discrimination, settlements and jury awards are substantially higher in age related cases than in those for race, sex or disability discrimination (Age Discrimination, 1999). Generally older people are accused of lacking energy and flexibility, while young people lack experience and want it all. Many people do not get the opportunity to show whether or not they have what it takes because of their age. These people are being discriminated against and therefore, robbed of their employment opportunities. Definition of Age Discrimination
Direct and indirect forms of age discrimination exist in employment. Obvious forms of discrimination are where people hold strong, stereotypical views about a person’s capabilities to do a job or to be developed because of their age. An example is an employer could regard all 23 year olds as immature and incapable of managing older workers, even if they have the right experience and qualifications for the job. On the other hand, an employer could consider those over 50 unable to learn new technology due to change and their age. Age discrimination can affect younger workers when it comes to wages irrespective of their abilities. It can affect workers in their twenties through the tendency to set arbitrary age limits in job advertisements as a substitute for a decision based on the merits of the applicants. It can affect women over 35 and men over 40 who are trying to find new employment or change direction mid-career. Older unemployed workers may have greater difficulty finding work and experience longer periods of unemployment than other age groups. The proposed legislation will require employers to abandon age stereo types and assess individuals on their merits. More subtle forms of age discrimination exist where a person may not realize that a corporation is discriminating on the grounds of age. This situation assumes that an older person is less likely than a younger colleague to want to be considered for a promotion or continued developmental path. In addition, some older workers themselves may doubt their own ability to learn new skills and may rule themselves out for opportunities. For instance, some older workers may feel they would not be able to learn about information technology when in fact, they have been learning about new technology throughout their career. Age vs. Youth
A fine line exists between trying to help people who are most likely to experience age discrimination in employment so that they have the same opportunities as others, and positively discriminating in their favor at the expense of others. Having identified unacceptable stereotypical behavior, a danger could exist in potentially adopting stereotypical attitudes such as all older people are more reliable than younger ones to try to bridge the gap. This approach might help to tackle some stereotypes but it does not help to promote the vision of an economy making the most of the diverse skills, potential and experience available to it.
Discrimination against Older Persons
Older workers often face discrimination. Employers may not want to hire older workers because of the following reasons: the...
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